A call for change in Tanzania’s socio-economic dispensation

Monday August 28 2017

 

TANZANIA’S INDUSTRIALISATION JOURNEY, 2016-2056: From an Agrarian to a Modern Industrialized State in Forty Years by ALI A. MUFURUKI, RAHIM MAWJI, MOREMI MARWA, GILMAN KASIGA is an extensively researched book piecing together various factors behind our current situation and suggests how we can forge ahead.

It also tells us that an abundance of natural resources alone is enough. Making better use of such resources, developing competitive positions through infrastructure development, human capital development, sound industrial policy and inclusiveness can make a huge difference.

The authors articulately assess our potential vis-a-vis the ability to make things happen. They take stock of the so-called good intentions of the Bretton Woods institutions, including initiatives such as investment climate reforms, which fell short of spurring rapid, and advocate the need to take charge in defining our own destiny.

With specific key lessons, the authors highlight what others have done. They suggest solutions as well. The book talks of the need to have strategic protectionism. In tracing history, the book highlights the impact of strategic government intervention in the early days of industrialisation – learning from the West, of course.

For instance, it highlights global hypocrisy whereby developed nations advocate opening up of African markets in the name of globalisation, while they are known to have openly protected their industries during their early days of development/industrialisation.

The authors suggest that Africans, and Tanzania in particular, should consider strategic protectionism.

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“Economic history shows us that essentially every single country in the world that has grown powerful over the recent decades and centuries has done so, not through free trade, but through strategic protectionism and an active industrial policy,” notes part of the book.

On dealing with the human resources challenge, the book traces how we got into the current education crisis, which has led to poor employability of Tanzanian graduates. While addressing possible ways to improve our education system, the authors draw lessons from the German school system and Singaporean and Kenyan models, among others.

Further lessons and suggestions are drawn/directed on the need to improve key infrastructure, namely ports, railways network, road networks and airports and air travel, communication, water supply, electricity and financial resources mobilisation.

While appreciating the need to have the State take the lead through “strategic deployment of state-owned enterprises”, like what other developed and developing countries are doing, the book highlights the need for the State to be a strategic player.

And this quote from Mwalimu Julius Nyerere sums it up well: “There is no way in which we can begin to deal with the problems of Africa without leadership and without commitment…don’t listen to this nonsense that the state should give up the direction of the economy.

It’s nonsensical … Nani wameacha? Who has done it? The Japanese have not done it; the British have not done it; the Germans have not done it.”

Also, identifying which industries work best for Tanzania is paramount. The authors do a good job in identifying priority areas by way of understanding the value of global trade. That global demand on agriculture produces is tiny compared to machines (including electronics) production at 25 per cent; mineral products at 18 per cent, transportation 10 per cent, metals 7.2 per cent, plastics 4.5 per cent and textiles 4.3 per cent.

That machines account for $4.34 trillion of global business, with integrated circuits alone valued at $498 billion. This is worth more than all agricultural products combined, which are worth $490 billion!

This means that we should look beyond agriculture. I must confess. Before reading this book, I for one, considered agriculture as a big catalyst for our nation’s rapid development. I am that afraid my views are no longer the same. Going for top global demand products will guarantee rapid growth.

And the authors not only identify eight priority industries to focus on in the next 20 years, but explain at length what could/should be an optimal fit for Tanzania, having learnt from the many development paths taken by developed countries.

This is a thought-provoking book. One that challenges your individual commitment towards making things happen. One that brings out that guilty feeling of not having done enough to make resource-rich Tanzania a better place.

Yet, the book provides hope that not all is lost. We can make it happen!

In short, this book represents Tanzania’s cry for RADICAL CHANGE in the nation’s social-economic ecosystem.

It will be a gross disservice if this 169-page wealth of knowledge will join the many plans and experts’ proposals in gathering dust on the shelves.

I can only hope this book will stimulate serious, formal and inclusive national dialogue with one goal in mind – realising the dream of a middle-income economy at the shortest time possible!

Bakari S. Machumu, Executive Editor, Mwananchi Communications Ltd, August 19, 2017. Email: bakari@thecitizen.co.tz Follow me on twitter: @bmachumu